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PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI-In an attempt to stop a $300.5-million “new urbanism” mixed-use development, the township board of trustees has hired an appraiser to value the 530-acre parcel. Township Supervisor James Walter hinted the appraiser was to find out how much it would cost the township to purchase the property.

The property, located along I-94, US 23 and US 12, is owned by Real Estate Interests Group Inc. of Bloomfield Township and Newmarket LLC. The two want to build 1,100 dwelling units in one organized village and two “hamlets,” as well as 120,000 sf of retail and office space.

Housing types would include senior apartments, traditional homes and villas. The former township board approved the development with a 4-3 vote last year. However, each of the four “yes” votes were not elected to the board in November, and the majority of the new board is against the plan, Walter says.

Residents signed petitions protesting the development and have gathered enough to force a vote to approve or deny the project during the next August primary.

The developers have now sued the township in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to prevent the vote. Meanwhile, they are negotiating with the board in private to reach a settlement.

Walter says the property could be bought and used for a new public safety building, a new recreation building or park land.

“It would be very expensive to try to provide water and sewer to the property, it’s in a very low area, with a lot of wetland,” he says. “There’re many other reasons why it shouldn’t be built up that way. There’s a blue heron rookery on the land, and with all those highways there, it would be an absolute traffic nightmare.”

A development like the one proposed would also drain the township’s already meager water system, he adds.

Walter says the infrastructure problem was mostly caused by the previous board, which underestimated the growth of the township that grew in population to 30,000 people, about 70% more than what it had in 1990.

“They had projected we would have possibly 29,000 residents by 2010,” Waltersays. “This project is not a bad plan, it’s just in the wrong place.”

The developer’s attorney, Jerold Lax from Ann Arbor, confirmed with GlobeSt.com that there are ongoing discussions among the parties.

“The lawsuit is still in the discovery phase. It’s before Judge Timothy Connors, but no dates have been set,” Lax says.

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